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Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Long Walk to Freedom (2006)

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Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Long Walk to Freedom How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The vocal call and response of Ladysmith Black Mambazo traces our world's civilizations from the very beginning. As a form of communication, singing has accompanied the advancement of societies far and wide. Our ancestors undoubtedly found it as pleasurable as we do. With a cappella singing providing a natural delight that cannot be replaced by modern technology, Joseph Shabala and company deliver a series of timeless messages that grab at your soul.

Except for "Mbube, colored in different textures by Taj Mahal's gritty blues vocals and fiery electric guitar, and "Shosholoza, which includes Hugh Masekela's mellow flugelhorn voice within its rich structure, Long Walk to Freedom is purely an a cappella album. Joseph Shabala, his stellar vocal group, and his endearing guests create a memorable experience.

Nearly every track is a high point. From the vocal percussion that they and Joe McBride employ on "Diamonds in the Soles of her Shoes to the vocal purity that Emmylou Harris adds to "Amazing Grace, the album comes recommended for all listeners.

Two selections are offered as music videos on this enhanced CD. Mambazo's audio-visual interpretation of "Long Walk to Freedom gives the group's audience a strong feel for what history has handed South Africa. Marking twelve years of democracy and weaving images of Nelson Mandela into the mix, the ensemble's five-minute video inspires. The video interpretation of "Raise Your Spirit Higher, from the album of the same name, emphasizes music over meaning, but with Mambazo in clear focus. The enhanced CD also includes a screensaver, eighteen color photos of the vocal ensemble, a written biography, and detailed release information.

Track Listing: Nomathemba; Hello My Baby; Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes; Homeless; Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain; How Long; Mbube (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) (Wimoweh); Amazing Grace / Nearer My God to Thee; Nkosi Sikelel lAfrica; Inkanyezi Nezazi (Star and the Wiseman); Shosholoza; Long Walk to Freedom (Halala South Africa); Thula Thula.

Personnel: Joseph Shabalala- vocals, leader; Msizi Shabalala, Thulani Shabalala, Sibongiseni Shabalala, Thamsanqa Shabalala, Albert Mazibuko, Abednego Mazibuko, Russel Mthembu, Emmylou Harris, Melissa Etheridge, Joe McBride, Natalie Merchant, Marie Maulne, Tanja Daese, Lene Noegaard Christensen, Lucky Dube, Bhekumuzi Luthuli, Vusi Mahlasela, Nokukamya, Phuzekhemisi, Thandiswa: vocals; Taj Mahal: vocals, guitar; Hugh Masekela: flugelhorn.

Record Label: Heads Up International

Style: Vocal


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